World like a dewdrop Acrylic on canvas 122x76cm Tom Cullen 2011
"World like a dewdrop
Though it's only a dewdrop
Even so,even so."
I painted "World like a dewdrop" recently in 2011, having read and been influenced by Japanese haiku poetry. I wanted to explore and interpret some of the principles of haiku in a visual way and through my own language of abstract expressionism.The question of scale interested me. I wanted to develop a relationship between a small entity in the painting and the larger expanse of the canvas itself,using vibrant colour to dictate both harmony and contrast.
Haiku poetry emerged in Japan in the 16th century and has it's roots in the tradition of Tanga and the developments of Renga.In original format,it consists of three lines of five,seven and five syllables respectively.There are nine haiku rules, which include stating that the poem should be simple and immediate. It should also have connections with real events, sights, sounds or emotions.Another technique used is the contrast between the large and the small, the cosmic and the individual or the profound and the everyday.By comparing the world to a dewdrop for instance, we are forced to change perspective.This may alter our pre-conceived ideas and meanings about our relationship with the world.
There are also links with the Zen Buddhist concepts of Change and Impermanence,Suffering and Compassion,Simplicity and Momentariness,Non-self. Everything is in constant state of change and suffering is key to human existence. Compassion for ourselves and others is essential to combat pain.By learning to live with a little ,keeping life simple and by trying to live in the moment we can also come to terms with the human condition.Ultimately,the idea of a permanent self and ownership is an illusion.
"World like a dewdrop" is on show at the W3 Gallery, Acton Town,London from June 5th as part of the "Celebrating Sanctuary" Exhibition.